United States District Court, M.D. Pennsylvania
November 8, 2005.
RYAN ROHRBAUGH, Plaintiff,
YORK COUNTY PRISON, et al., Defendants.
The opinion of the court was delivered by: A. CAPUTO, District Judge
Ryan Rohrbaugh, formerly an inmate successively confined at the
York County Prison ("YCP") in York, Pennsylvania, the State
Correctional Institution at Camp Hill ("SCI-Camp Hill"),
Pennsylvania, and State Correctional Institution at Albion
("SCI-Albion"), Pennsylvania, commenced this action, through
counsel, with a civil rights complaint filed pursuant to the
provisions of 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Plaintiff subsequently filed an
amended complaint (Doc. 113). Named as Defendant are, inter
alia, Dr. Alan Esper and Wexford Health Sources, Inc.
("Wexford"). In response to the amended complaint, Wexford filed
an answer and cross-claim, in which Esper is named as a
cross-claim Defendant. Presently pending are (1) Esper's motion
to dismiss the complaint, the amended complaint, the cross-claim,
and the amended cross-claim against him (Docs. 36, 124, 39, and
125 respectively); and (2) Plaintiff's motion to set aside (Doc.
58) Esper's default judgment.
In January, 2003, Plaintiff was incarcerated at YCP for a
parole violation. Plaintiff alleges that during his confinement
at YCP, he discovered a black mole on his back, which prompted
him to seek medical attention. Plaintiff consulted with a nurse,
who instructed him to wait to receive medical treatment until he was transferred
to a state correctional facility. In May, 2003, Plaintiff was
transferred to SCI-Camp Hill, and he was subsequently transferred
to SCI-Albion in August, 2003. Plaintiff underwent medical
examinations during the intake procedures at both institutions,
and he noted the black mole on his back to the medical personnel
at both examinations. Although the mole was surgically removed
from Plaintiff's back in November of 2003, Plaintiff alleges that
the mole was malignant, and the delay in removal allowed the
cancer to spread to other parts of his body. Consequently,
Plaintiff alleges that as a result of Defendants' inadequate
medical care he has endured substantial pain and suffering,
numerous surgeries, chemotherapy, radiation treatments, and a
shortened life expectancy, among other damages. (Doc. 1 at ¶¶
Esper claims that he is entitled to dismissal from the action
for (1) lack of jurisdiction, (2) Plaintiff's failure to comply
with Local Rule 8.1 (M.D.Pa.L.R. 8.1), and (3) Plaintiff's
failure to allege a claim of deliberate indifference against
Esper. Moreover, Esper claims that he is entitled to judgment of
non pros, or alternatively involuntary dismissal for
Plaintiff's failure to file a certificate of merit, as required
for Plaintiff's state tort claims. Plaintiff asserts that the
motions should be denied because the Court may exercise
supplemental jurisdiction over the state court claims, and
involuntary dismissal is inappropriate. If dismissal is granted,
Plaintiff seeks relief from the dismissal of his state claims.
The motions have been fully briefed and they are ripe for
disposition. For the following reasons, Plaintiff's motion will
be granted and Esper's motions will be granted in part. III. Discussion
A. Motion to Dismiss Standard
In rendering a decision on a motion to dismiss, the Court must
accept the Plaintiff's allegations as true. White v. Napoleon,
897 F.2d 103, 106 (3d Cir. 1990). Moreover, a motion to dismiss
may only be granted if there is no reasonable reading of the
facts that would entitle Plaintiff to relief. Lum v. Bank of
America, 361 F.3d 217, 223 (3d Cir. 2004). The Court should
consider the allegations in the complaint, the exhibits attached
thereto, matters of public record, and "undisputedly authentic"
documents. See Angstadt v. Midd-West School Dist.,
377 F.3d 338, 342 (3d Cir. 2004); Pension Guar. Corp. White Consol.
Indus., Inc., 998 F.2d 1192, 1196 (3d Cir. 1993). A complaint
that does not establish entitlement to relief under any
reasonable interpretation is properly dismissed without leave to
amend. Grayson v. Mayview State Hospital, 293 F.3d 103, 106 (3d
B. Supplemental Jurisdiction
Esper claims that this Court lacks jurisdiction over the claim
against him, and he should be dismissed from the action. However,
for the reasons set forth in the Court's Memorandum and Order
dated June 20, 2005 (Doc. 85), Esper's challenge to supplemental
jurisdiction will be denied.
C. Failure to Comply With M.D.Pa.L.R. 81
Esper also claims that Plaintiff's complaint should be
dismissed for Plaintiff's failure to comply with M.D.Pa. Local
Rule 8.1. Under Rule 8.1, the demand for judgment "shall not
claim any specific sum where unliquidated damages are involved."
Although Plaintiff has pled an amount in excess of $150,000.00,
he has not pled a sum certain in contravention of the local rule, and the amount sought is not binding on the jury
in this case. Accordingly, this argument is without merit. See
also M.D.Pa.L.R. 1.3.
D. Failure to File Certificate of Merit
Esper claims that he is entitled to involuntary dismissal of
Plaintiff's complaint for failure to prosecute, pursuant to the
provisions of FED.R.CIV.P. 41(b). Plaintiff claims that
involuntary dismissal is inappropriate but, if granted, Plaintiff
is entitled to relief from the dismissal. Again, for the reasons
set forth in the Court's Memorandum and Order dated June 20, 2005
(Doc. 85), Esper's request for involuntary dismissal of
Plaintiff's complaint will be granted and Plaintiff's motion for
relief from involuntary dismissal will be granted.
E. Failure to State a Claim
Esper alleges that Plaintiff fails to set forth elements of an
action for deliberate indifference under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, and
the claim against him should be dismissed pursuant to Federal
Rule of Civil Procedure 12(b)(6). Plaintiff argues that his claim
against Esper (Doc. 113, Count XX)*fn1 is based upon medical
malpractice, and Esper's motion should be denied. Regardless of
the theory of recovery, Plaintiff's amended complaint alleges,
inter alia, that Defendants were deliberately indifferent to
Plaintiff's serious medical needs (Doc. 113, ¶ 78), Defendants
failed to properly diagnose and treat Plaintiff (Id., ¶ 80),
and as a direct and proximate result of Defendants' "negligence,
gross negligence, reckless disregard . . . and deliberate
indifference . . . [Plaintiff's] life expectancy has been
significantly decreased. . . ." (Id., ¶ 85). Although this
general averment is not enlightening as to the specific action or
inaction by each individual Defendant challenged in the amended complaint, Plaintiff has satisfied the requirements
of pleading, and the liberal discovery rules of the federal court
will permit Defendants to develop the facts more fully.
The amended complaint sets forth a "short and plain statement"
of the basis of jurisdiction, the basis of the claim and
entitlement to relief, and a demand for judgment, fulfilling the
pleading requirements of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.
See Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a). Nothing more is required, and the
averments in the complaint are sufficient to survive Esper's
motions to dismiss. In Swierkiewicz v. Sorema N.A.,
534 U.S. 506, 513 (2002), the Supreme Court reiterated its holding that
"Rule 8(a)'s simplified pleading standard applies to all civil
actions. . . ." Furthermore, the United States Court of Appeals
for the Third Circuit has consistently held that nothing more is
required in § 1983 cases than the notice pleading requirements of
Rule 8. Alston v. Simmon, 363 F.3d 229, 233 (3d Cir. 2004);
Abbott v. Latshaw, 164 F.3d 141, 149 (1998). Plaintiff's
amended complaint is only subject to the short and plain
statement requirement of Rule 8(a). Alston, 363 F.3d at 334.
Accordingly, Esper's motion to dismiss under Rule 12(b)(6) will
F. Dismissal From Cross-Claims
Esper also seeks to be dismissed as a Defendant from the
cross-claim of Wexford. Since Esper bases his motions for
dismissal from the cross-claim on the arguments set forth in his
motions for dismissal from the complaint, his motions for
dismissal from the cross-claim will be denied for the reasons set
forth above. An appropriate order follows. ORDER
AND NOW, THIS 8th DAY OF NOVEMBER, 2005, in accordance
with the foregoing memorandum, IT IS HEREBY ORDERED THAT:
1. Dr. Alan Esper's motions to dismiss (Docs. 36 and
124) for failure to prosecute are GRANTED, and the
motions to dismiss are denied on all other grounds.
2. Dr. Alan Esper's motions to dismiss party from
cross-claims (Docs. 39 and 125) are DENIED.
3. Plaintiff's motion to set aside default (Doc. 58)
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